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The Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber Gravestone Photograph Collection

Identifier: A0036

Scope and Contents

The Farber collection at the American Folk Art Museum contains almost 300 print photographs, 300 photographic slides, and 17 replicas of gravestones, both mounted photographs on masonite and in concrete. Though some of the photographs include both full stone and corresponding details, the majority of the images depict individual gravestones, meaning that the collections contains images of approximately 500 unique stones. Details about each stone has been recorded, including the name and date of the deceased, location of cemetery, carver if known, and any other pertinent details.

The approximately 500 stones featured in this collection are only a portion of the over 9,300 stones the Farbers photographed. Both the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) and Yale Universty Art Galleries own complete sets of the photographs and slides, and 27 other institutions, including AFAM, received smaller sets of prints. The Farbers and AAS collaborated to digitize the complete set of Farber photographs, as well as gravestone photograph collections by Harriette Merrifield Forbes and Dr. Ernest Caulfield. These can be found:,Dates

The photographs are all in excellent condition.


  • Majority of material found within 1976 - 1984


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research. Access to sensitive materials may be restricted at the discretion of the American Folk Art Museum.

Conditions Governing Use

The Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber Gravestone Photograph Collection is owned by the American Folk Art Museum. The collection is subject to all copyright laws, and is dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship.

Biographical Note

Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber were some of the earliest and most active enthusiasts for studying early American grave markers, and together photographed thousands of early gravestones. The Farbers also were instrumental in founding the Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS) in 1977. Further, the Farbers were instrumental in introducing Susan H. Kelly, Anne C. Williams, Ivan Rigby and Francis Duval, to the American Folk Art Museum, all of whom donated gravestone collections to the museum.

The Farbers photographed over 9,300 gravestone, mostly in the northeastern United States, but as far west as Texas as well as internationally. The Farbers were primarily interested in gravestones carved before 1800, and as such, this collection presents a portrait of early American thoughts on life and death.

While Daniel Farber was a businessman who devoted his free time to his interest in photography, Jessie Lie was a professional photographer as well as a teacher. Both were interested not only in the historical significance of the stones, but the folk art aspects as well. In fact, Jessie Lie's interest began after seeing gravestone rubbings at the Whitney Museum in 1974. By the time of their marriage in 1978, the Farbers were photographing as a team, and photographing early American gravestones almost exclusively.

The Farbers made many contributions to the study of early American gravestones, including improving the technique for photographing gravestones, enhancing the interest in this unique art form, and the important act of preserving graphics and inscriptions as the stones begin to degrade in their natural environments.


266 photographic print(s)

305 photographic slide(s)

17 object(s) : (2 concrete replicas; 15 photographic replicas mounted on masonite)

2 audiocassette(s)

Language of Materials



The Farber gravestone collection depicts approximately 600 gravestones in photographic prints and slides. The gravestones were primarily carved before 1800, and are in the northeast region of the United States. Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber were early gravestone enthusiasts, and helped to form the Association for Gravestone Studies.


Photographs are arranged primarily by the date that they were donated to the museum, as this order corresponds to the inventory provided to the museum. After this general arrangement, photographs are arranged by size.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber, 1983-1996

A Guide to the Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber Gravestone Photograph Collection
Mimi Lester
December 2015
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Repository Details

Part of the American Folk Art Museum Archives Repository

47-29 32nd Place
Long Island City New York 11101 United States
(212) 595-9533